James Owen

James Owen

ATTORNEY JAMES D. OWEN

It was a quarter of a century ago that Criminal Defense Lawyer, James D. Owen, won his first murder case.  John Meysenburg, was shot to death in a flower shop during a robbery.

The State accused twenty-one year-old Donald Hairston and attorneys David Bodiker and James D. Owen defended him.  Despite a publicized escape attempt prior to jury selection and eyewitness evidence connecting Hairston to the crime, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of “Not Guilty.”

As Cincinnati Magazine put it, “Owen produced various pieces of previously overlooked evidence and won Ohio’s first death-penalty acquittal after executions were reinstated.”

In the time since, Owen has continued to add “not guilty” verdicts to his accolades and has diversified from criminal defense, to freeing innocent persons from prison and pursuing civil lawsuits against the government actors who wrongfully imprison them.

Timothy Howard and Gary James were convicted of a 1976 robbery and murder at a Columbus bank.  The two friends, who grew up together on Columbus’ East Side, were sentenced to death.  When Ohio’s death penalty was found unconstitutional in 1978 before being again passed into law in 1981, their sentences were commuted to life in prison.  So in prison they stayed, until James Owen and Centurion Ministries, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to helping innocent prisoners took their case.

The ensuing legal battle was the stuff of Hollywood movies.  The prosecutor claimed that someone stole his briefcase containing fingerprint evidence that might have exonerated Howard and James from a downtown bar.  An FBI agent and a judge testified on behalf of the pair of prisoners, the FBI agent saying, “I always wondered whether these guys were guilty.”

In 2003 when, after a hard fought legal battle, the prosecutor offered to let Howard out of prison that very day if he would just admit to the lesser crime of manslaughter, Howard turned him down flat.  The only thing, he had left, Howard said, was his innocence, and he would not give that up for anything.

Thanks to the efforts of Owen and Centurion Ministries, both Howard and James were freed from prison in 2003.  With Owen’s representation, the men went on to claim the largest wrongful imprisonment award in Ohio history.

Owen continues to have a close relationship with Jim McCloskey, founder of Centurion Ministries and cooperative representation between Centurion Ministries and Owen continues to serve innocents who have been wrongfully imprisoned.

In addition to his work for the poor and wrongfully imprisoned, Mr. Owen has represented an NFL player, doctors, judges, and politicians including a U.S. Congressman and Ohio Secretary of State.  His work in criminal defense has frequently been recognized for its quality, thoroughness, and pure tenacity.  Mr. Owen was ranked in the top 5% of Ohio’s practicing attorneys by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine from 2006 to 2014.

Cases Owen has been involved in:

State of Ohio v. Bowie Former NFL football player indicted for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Improper Transportation of a Firearm.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on both charges.

State of Ohio v. Mirreh Kidnapping and Attempted Rape.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on both charges.

State of Ohio v. Turner Murder and three counts of Involuntary Manslaughter.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all four charges.  Though the client was found guilty of minor offenses, he was released from jail on the day the verdict was announced.

State of Ohio v. Howard Aggravated Murder and Robbery.  CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED.  CASE DISMISSED.  The jury in a subsequent civil murder trial found the client to be innocent of all charges.

State of Ohio v. James James was Howard’s co-defendant.  James also had his CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED AND CASE DISMISSED.

State of Ohio v. Smith Robbery.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Mefford Multiple counts of attempted rape.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Hairston Aggravated murder with death penalty specifications and other charges.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Reeves Rape and gross sexual imposition.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Green Breaking and entering and possession of criminal tools.  The Court directed a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Jones Aggravated drug trafficking based on multiple sales of narcotics to an undercover police officer.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges because the officer entrapped the client.

State of Ohio v. Walker Aggravated vehicular homicide.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Cross Aggravated drug trafficking.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Hollman  I Aggravated murder with death penalty specifications and other charges.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Hollman  II Multiple counts of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and felonious assault with a firearm.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Brown Rape and felonious assault.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Flaherty Convictions for aggravated murder with death penalty specifications and other charges.  CONVICTION REVERSED on direct appeal based on errors raised in the trial court.

State of Ohio v. Berry Aggravated murder with death penalty specifications and other charges.  The jury announced a NOT GUILTY verdict on all charges.

United States v. Gurden Federal firearms violations.  The jury found the client NOT GUILTY on all charges.

State of Ohio v. Resh Murder and Attempted Rape. Post-conviction litigation heard by a visiting judge, the Court of Appeals, and the Ohio Supreme Court, resulting in both CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED.